Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Religions for Eastwylde pt 2 - The Companions of Beatrix

The Companions of Beatrix are the brave men and women, mostly human, who joined the heroic wizardess in her quest to reseal the Giants 500 years ago. In their lifetime my campaign setting approximately mirrored the 11th Century (it currently resembles the mid-16th). Unless I am miscounting they are fourteen in number. My initial idea was to have a patron saint for every major Pathfinder class (Core Rulebook + Advanced Player's Guide + Complete Magic) and one for each core character race (Man, Ulf, Dorf, Numm, Hawbet, Orkykind). However, I forgot to include a saint for Witches, Oracles or Halflings---oh well. Let's assume the Cult of the Saints' official stance is Halflings are just small Men not truly a race apart, and don't require their own saint. And, for obvious reasons nobody likes Oracles or Witches. I also exclude Gunslingers (Ultimate Combat), Inquisitors (APG) and Monks as those classes didn't exist (at least not in the West) in Beatrix's day. I don't want to make an unweldy monster post (ha ha ha) so I'll start with the first four.

Q: Are the Companions the most important Saints?

A: Beatrix is certainly the most important saint, believed to have merged with the whole cosmos and become omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. St. Justin is approximate to St. George--his name is a byword for martial aspiration and courage and he's depicted all over in art and legend.  From there, it gets complicated.  There are countless saints, some so obscure they are no more than names buried in a musty register.  Many are unknown outside of a certain locality, some are associated with a certain profession or a certain event, perhaps even a specific gate, bridge, mountain, etc.  All of the companions have at least middling prominence due to their association with Beatrix but some have fallen out of favor or are no longer believed even to have existed.

Q: How old is the Cult of Saints anyway? What was it like before Beatrix?

A: The Cult began with the idea that all gods are no more than aspects of a deeper Truth---that this divine spark resides in every person, every blade of grass, and fills all the known Planes of Existence. Saints however, are beings in whom this power shows greatly, who do great and wonderful things as an expression of its divine love. For the first few centuries of its existence it was a highly intellectual movement largely limited to the support of sages and scholars of the esoteric. In the waning age of the great Empire that once ruled over the West, the conversion of a certain Emperor led to the adoption of the Cult of Saints as the Empire's official creed. The many cults throughout the Empire's provinces (particularly the Druids, still strong across the North) were not interfered with, nor did official adoption cause a single hierarchy within the Cult to develop, for reasons that are complex and boring. The Cult instead continued to revolve around a decentralized conclave of urban Primarchs, in whose Temples the precious remains of Saints are kept. Older divinities, ancestors, genii loci etc. were occasionally assimilated as Saints, but until Beatrix the Cult never achieved fidelity from more than a third of the former Empire's peoples.

The Companions

St. Beatrix Paraclete, Queen of Heaven (NG female human wizardess) - About Beatrix much has been said but scarcely enough can be written. As mentioned previously, depictions of Beatrix before her ascension as an embodiment of heavenly virtue and font of wisdom are less popular than humanizing portrayals which portray her as a vulnerable young woman who finds the courage to save the world. Of course, following her death-ascension Beatrix became more perfect than is possible to imagine.

St. Justin Giantslayer (LG male human ranger? paladin?) - Of Beatrix's companions St. Justin is nearly as famous as the Savior herself. He is considered both a patron and role-model by Rangers and Paladins, who fiercely contest which profession he belonged to. The history of the Rangers is tied up in the Return of the Giants, with their long watch ending in bitter defeat only for the Order to reconstitute itself in many places as a bulwark against many threats (hence why Rangers are "especially trained" against so many divers monsters and enemy kinds). For this reason, St. Justin is most often portrayed as a survivor of the shattered Rangers in dramatical retellings of the Return. A chance encounter with the lovely ingenue Beatrix restores his fighting spirit, etc. However it is the Paladins who have taken as a byname "The Order of St. Justin." Rangers, when they want to sound fancy, must content themselves with the much more specific St. Daffydd, patron of Those Who Fight With Two Swords (alternatively, St. Mark, the specific and less flashy patron saint of accurate shooting).

Hard facts about St. Justin are few--several cities and towns claim to be the place of his birth and a few noble families claim him in their extended lineage. There are fabulous tales such as him being raised a Ranger by the Elves, or that Northern Barbarians slew his family and he was raised in a Cult abbey. Fragments of his shivered sword, pieces of wood and nails from his shield, spurs from simple iron to ornate gold, a horse's skull, are all alleged for his relics. It is said his heart lies beneath Holger's pass but no Temple stands to attest it.

St. Justin is virtually always portrayed as a handsome but battle-scarred young man [when I showed my players a drawing of him they immediately called him Anakin Skywalker]. If appearing as a Paladin, he has a distinctive blue/orange diagonal stripe scheme on his long surcoat and massive kite shield (historical but technically anachronistic touches) wearing a suit of mail and wielding a knight's sword. If a Ranger, he wears humbler footman's steel and leather under a cloak of green or white (the Rangers originated in the frozen North after all) and carries sword and bow or two swords as the artist fancies. Justin fell in battle with Angrybors the Giant King of Storms, and their dramatic final duel is such a common art tableau that you can buy many depictions of it in just about any marketplace.

St. Justin's domains are War, Nobility and Animal. He is associated with the aforementioned Orders and those who fight monsters generally, plus woodsmen, war-horses, robins, and recovery from blunt trauma (many hospitals bear his name). His Feast Day is September 29, which is the day called Michaelmas. Paladin and Ranger associations often celebrate with processions and feasts.

St. Casval the Ready (LG human fighter) - While warriors of all stripes can and do pray to St. Justin, St. Casval represents the humble foot soldier more specifically. He is called "The Ready" because it is said he was a wise veteran who always watched the backs of the more impetuous Sts. Justin and Lionel the Lancer, always ready to strike out opportunistically with his long spear. In fact, as something of a running gag down generations of artists Casval is portrayed with a wild variety of anachronistic, often outlandish polearms such as the reverse-forked ranseur or the Oriental "tree of swords." Some don't even exist, such as the Double Ox-Tongued Mancatching Crow's Beak. He is usually portrayed as an older man with a distinguishing mustache.

Casval is one of the better-attested companions, as he actually survived the Battle of Holger's Pass. He retired with honor to the City of Fons, where he served as "Captain of the People" (essentially a militia commander) until his death some 40 years after Beatrix's ascension. He was declared a saint in his own lifetime. His tomb in the Great Plaza at Fons has been a pilgrimage hot spot for five centuries. Bizarrely(?) he left no memoir or personal account of the Queen of Heaven, at least none known. His home and effects are in the care of a chapter of Poor Sisters. His ash spear is on display in a glass case. Touching the glass will grant a +1 bonus on Attacks of Opportunity and Trip attempts for 24 hours.

St. Casval's domains are Earth, Community and Strength. He is associated with serjeants and militia bands, city walls, badgers, and the game of chess--it's said he painted a pawn on his shield, and his blessing goes to those who can elevate a pawn by moving it to an opponent's back row.

St. Odion the Learned (LG human cleric) - It may seem odd for the Cleric class to have its own particular patron saint. Nevertheless St. Odion is such and his life is well-attested: he survived Holger's pass, founded a monastic order and lived to be 100. No one did more to promulgate Beatrix's legend, or to make her the new "face" of the Cult of Saints. He wrote the very first hagiography of Beatrix, titled A History of Beatrix Our Savior, the Wars on Our Earth and Beneath and in Heaven (a laborious read, mostly circulated in abridged form).

In all accounts, St. Odion is Beatrix's confessor and spiritual guide. Some writers trying to reconcile sacred history with more sacriligious accounts of Our Sweet Savior present Beatrix as an amoral Wizardess who indeed learned a terrible ritual at the frozen feet of the Ice Father, until the wisdom of Odion put her on a more righteous path. In his History however, Odion wrote Beatrix was, "the embodiment of all that is sweet and well-meaning in Man's heart," and "so near to perfect she was fragrant of heaven." So don't look for nuance from him. Incidentally, bawdies and burlesques of the Companions portray him as an old letch always trying get a peek up Beatrix's skirt ("Father shall I kneel to pray?"/"Heavens child I'll not bar your way." "But Father I say the floor is cold."/"Come here child, a cloak I hold.")

In many ways Odion was a great reformer of the Cult. He did not give it a central hierarchy or disavow its pantheistic teachings but he did elevate the monastery from houses of prayer dependent on powerful patronage to powerful landowning "religious corporations" (or less ominously, "communities.") His Rule (the Odine Monks or "Grey Fathers") established the baseline for subsequent Rules and Orders to follow. Odion reified and encouraged many nascent traditions, such as mass public confessions and penances on Witsuntide and Michaelmas (whole communities expose their sins and perform acts of contrition together in the Cult). Odion came as close as anyone in the Cult ever has to calling other faiths wrong and dumb (such as his tract, On Trees which could well be titled "Stupid Druids, Trees Aren't God"). You can buy little figurines of Odion most anywhere (+1 CL to Magic Circle Against Evil with one as your divine focus). They always show him wagging his finger.

Odion is portrayed as a bent old man with twin flames of grey hair rising behind his bald pate, wearing a grey habit and carrying a gnarled staff. He is associated with monks (duh), parchment and vellum making, pigeons, students and schoolmasters. His bones/effects are scattered protecting many places, including his native city of Stellamont, the Royal Library of Pellegrine, his first monastery of Oxmort, and his tibia are in a chest somewhere at the bottom of the Trader's Sea (oops). Aside from the usual wound and disease curing miracles, praying in some place with his remains gives you a +2 to research rolls and for 48 hours, intimidation checks.

Our Lady of Songs (CG elf? half elf? bard) - The Lady is one of Beatrix's most mysterious and least well-attested companions, yet next to Beatrix herself perhaps the most commonly represented and evoked in word and image. She came from the Elven Lands yet beyond that, not even her name is known, or if she was fully or half Elven. St. Odion never mentioned her in his History (then again, he left out a lot--he was a man of narrow interests), nor is she mentioned in any firsthand accounts of the Return of the Giants. In modern times many of skeptical mind say she was invented by the Cult as a way to give the notoriously rambunctious Order of Bards a place in the Cult, and as an outreach to Elven converts (there are few, if any). Yet if she is only a fable, it seems to have sprung up quickly after Holger's pass---the first trouvere's song of the "Lady With the Lyre/Fall's Fire in Her Hair," who "made beasts weep and dragons bow," is attested only a few decades after. The various songs don't agree on her fate--some say at Holger's Pass she was "horribly crush't," others "return'd she to Elven Land/Where Time runs not and all is glad." Perhaps no other saint's relics sell so well: particularly locks of red hair, quite well preserved 500 years on, often hung from a lute's pegbox or twisted around an artist's brush.

Her devotees portray The Lady as an Elven woman with bright red hair holding a harp, lyre or psalter. If it is official cult art she is garbed in appropriately saintly gown and stola, but popular depictions clothe her to accent her loveliness, sometimes only in a shower of leaves. Wolves, lions or monsters are always tamely lying all around her. Often the device of a psalter and red maple leaf or rose serves as her representation. The Lady's domains are Charm, Liberation and Travel. In addition to Bards, Elves, elms and roses she is patroness of minstrels and the makers of instruments, crossroads, of many hills and woods, and young lovers.

Monday, February 27, 2017

What's in the Eastwylde pt 2 - In which I Torque About Orcs

Prepare to pork on orc.  So much orc, you will hork.  Uncork these orcs!

All About Orcs
So literally the first question everyone has when considering orcs in Your Dungeonmaster's Precious Setting is, "is it morally justified to massacre a bunch of infant orcs?"

The answer is, of course, no, never, not even then, what are you retarded it's wrong to kill babies.  It's also true that in my setting orcs were created by a primal act of murder, they literally have the evil of that deed stamped on their souls and they are twisted, despicable beings made of hate and bottomless anger.  It's still wrong to murder babies, you goons.  In fact, orcs are everything I just described and also ensouled beings with freedom of will (their creator hates them, he certainly doesn't care what they do).  The universe is complicated and not about to make itself easy for your moral convenience.  Except with dragons, I guess.

Here's the fucked thing with Orcs.  If you were talking hypothetically with one, and you said "if I slaughtered your whole tribe and then came upon a bunch of your helpless infants, would it be acceptable within the bounds of war for me to slaughter them?"  The orc would be like, "keep them alive so they stay fresh if you need rations, lol."

Yeah, orcs eat babies, mostly their own.  Just like hogs.  Actually cannibalism is quite common among them but for obvious reasons, in extremis the newborn are eaten first.   Note that orcs don't eat each other for any spiritual reason (they do not have a mystical bent or care much for symbolism), but when food is scarce.  Orcs are quite large (5' 8" to 6' 3" in a world where the average man is 5' 6"-5' 7") and have big muscles, obviously, so they need a protein-rich diet and they need a lot of it.  They are omnivorous, of course and can get a little nutrition from just about anything, just like hogs. But still, meat is the thing.

 Why are orcs green pig people?  Because they sprang from the blood of the slain god Freyr, who was called The Boar King, you see.  Incidentally, Freyr's wife Gerd was a Giantess and Storm Giants and Forest Giants (the tallest giant kindreds) are green so I don't know, possible connection there?  Anyway.  Freyr created the Elves, and so the Elves and Orcs are related in this way---the Elves call the Orcs their shadow, or distorted reflection, but then again Elves are vain.   Gruumsh, the brother god of Freyr and his murderer, considers himself the "Father" of the orcs.  The orcs believe they are ugly because Gruumsh was ugly and Gruumsh made them with his hate.  Gruumsh hates his children: the Orcs believe that the moon is his watchful eye (the full moon being the time for worthy deeds), and the stars are the all the dead orcs. Gruumsh pinned them up in the sky and lit them on fire, because he hates them.  Because they're ugly, like Gruumsh is  ugly, and they remind him he could only create ugly things.  Yes, Orcs consider themselves ugly and the Elves beautiful (in a sense they are the same race): braids of the Elves' lovely golden hair are quite a trophy if you can get it.

see what I mean?  the Storm Giant's the green one

This is a Forest Giantess.  I've been in love with this drawing for thirteen years, lol.

What are orcs like? Orcs are often likened to boars or pigs and this is accurate, in the same way people are basically chimps with more complicated rituals. Orcs have jaw and cheekbone structure reminiscent of suidae, which gives them very wide mouths and big square chins; orcmen have tusks turning upwards and orcwives usually none but when they do the tusks turn outwards; both have fangs but otherwise normal teeth, though some have "outer teeth" pointed outwards from the gums like a pig's. Many orcs look very frightening and bestial, with their jaws filthy and open like the boars they venerate, but some are handsome in a Ron Perlman As The Beast kind of way.

You see how thick that jawbone is and also how the teeth project forward?  Yeah baby, yeah.
As I was writing, orcs are likened to pigs and this is accurate: they are totally ruthless and have a very based outlook. An orcwife will eat her children to survive and barely feel guilty. They shrink from doing almost nothing to stay alive and are frank about it. Their cooperation is almost wholly calculated, by nature they are loners and survivors. Sometimes rage overcomes ruthlessness, for all orcs are born with a well of bottomless hate and rage in their hearts. They learn to control it or it eventually consumes them. They actually have the same beauty standards as Men, and they find themselves ugly and hateful (as they are, and so they should). This is why all orc cultures venerate ritual scarification and flencing of skin (important orcs often have the whole skin of their chin or cheeks scraped away or peeled back with plugs or staples embedded): they are ugly and hateful (full of hate and fit to be hated) and find both release in pain (their pain tolerance is like a boar's) and enjoy making themselves ever more frightful. Sarcasm is a high sport among the pig people.

Speaking of sports, orcs play many martial and athletic games among themselves. They are quite obsessed with games, as is common in hunter-warrior societies where for long stretches of time there is not much to do. These include javelin, shotput, darts, archery, climbing, and complicated hypothetical arguments (an aspect of "bulling" as it's called) such as "how would you hunt a pack of worgs," or "how would you ambush a heavily armored force of Men" [sidebar, orcish has problems with plurality so the singular "Man" is often ignored and the plural Men always used, as in 'you are a Men, talk to this other Men for me."] Orcs have long memories (like pigs) and to catch your opponent in an argument up by bringing up some point from long before is considered a masterful stroke. You may notice hurled weapons are popular with them: it is a myth that orcs prefer to "best use" their natural strength by wading into melee with a pair of battle-axes. Thrown weapons, recurved bows and long spears are more prized, as orcs love the ambush and to deliver the decisive stroke from surprise. "Fighting fair," goes their oldest saying, "is for suckers (oink oink)." The glorification of single combat is characteristic of cultures that possess heavy personal armor and most orc societies through the centuries have lacked this.

Here is a drawing of one of my orc NPCs (never did finish it)  The lamella are woodbark and the upper armor is cured hide. A weasel pelt acts as an overbelt.  Various pieces of metal form a kind of scapular which along with possession of a metal sword and dagger marks this orcwife as an important warrior.

Most orcs wear carefully prepared skin or clothing of bark. The time consuming manufacture of these is of course the domain of orcwives: but if an orcman can best survive by excelling at womens' work and if an orcwife wants to kill (who doesn't?) then it's a whatever. All orcs, however, love to decorate. Again, this is a culture of hunters who often have long stretches with nothing to do, so in addition to cutting on themselves in artistic ways they fashion braids and decorations of bone, horn, fur and feather---think Leatherstocking Goes Hellraiser and you get the idea. Orcs are very good at grinding bone and shell together and then making it a paste they can mold into plates or pipeclay for ever more elaborate and creative decoration. These decorations are another reason close combat is largely scorned by them.

If I am making orcs sound too cute or domestic remember these are people who will throw a knife at your head because their sliced-up skin is really irritating them that day, or murder and eat a close friend with the sang-freud of a pig. All orcs have the rage and the ruthlessness, like two devils pulling them in opposite directions. A lot of what I have said may be overreaching: orcs (and pigs!) can and do know love and loyalty but it is not praised among them. But, as to their skin: it is true orcs don't sweat and wallow in mud to keep cool and ease their irritation, and why they do poorly in meridian climes. A kind of backhanded blessing from their creator Gruumsh is that where many orcs live for a while, deep pits of mud will "bloom." Men call these corruptures and note accurately that orcs ruin the land wherever they settle (like pigs!). This is also why orcs encountered in the dungeon have pit traps around them, that's actually a weaponized bathing area (if they were expecting you). The sunlight does indeed burn orcs' skin and sting their eyes and the mud and darkness are their refuge (hence they settle in dense wood and caves, rarely staying in open country). Orcs go about with exposed skin totally covered in mud (save for where it's flensed, probably) giving them a yellow, reddish, brown or white cast depending on local clay (their natural skin colors are green, ash-grey and rarely bruise purple or white). This also improves their smell, and they frequently mix fragrant herbs, pine needles etc. into their skin ointments to smell better (they don't actually like stank anymore than humans do though some unwisely take it as a competition to see who can stink up a cave the most).

Another orc NPC's portrait.  Note the mix of leather, wood and bone and how armor and weapons blend into decoration

A common saying of men is, "boars and bats are the allies of orcs," and while not totally true (animals are not magically smart in my setting), they are the most frequently chosen companions of orc rangers, hunters and druids. Boars accompany orcs to war and hunt just as dogs accompany Men but, of course, they are not so selflessly loyal. Bats of course frequently carry disease through no fault of their own (interestingly in real life they had a heraldic association with physicians/medicine, at least in Islamic Spain) and orcs who live near (many cultivate) batcaves will pick up these diseases and so become even more hideous and threatening to Player Character intruders. Guano bombs and fungal alchemy provide traps for orc lairs.

As I mentioned, orcs, Men and Elves all have basically the same standard of beauty within a broad range (because Orcs are just a twisted version of Elves, of course): although orcs are usually extravagantly hideous and proud of it, some are attractive enough you might want to settle down and make a baby with them. Half-Orcs are often born from violence but also sometimes because mixed communities of wild men and seminomadic orcs form, especially up north (where the orcs are called "tamed" and now have many apparatuses of civilization). Because of the orcs' gloomy and violent outlook on basically everything (they like to say the stars are the souls of the departed burning in agony, they will always find a reason why what you're doing is pointless and dumb and you're doing it wrong anyway, schadenfreude and sarcasm is their cultural heritage etc.) such unions can be difficult unless the Men becomes Orclike or the Orc becomes Menlike (both are possible--orcs are ensouled beings with free will and capable of change, probably). The way of this generally is to encourage Bulling, which is the Orc art of conversation and includes complex hypotheticals, anecdotes and lore. Bulling is definitely the most positive social behavior Orcs engage in and you could with time probably make an orc upbeat (dare we say pleasant?) by encouraging her or him to Bull more. Some Orcs and Half-Orcs are born among humans and are almost totally human in personality, just a person with bad skin and a bad temper. The reverse is probably also true, orcs will (out of indifference/laziness) accept anyone into their band who is self-reliant and can Bull (and understands that cannibalism is nothing personal).

More about Bulling: an interesting fact about Orcs is that they do not use chairs save for the very human-influenced tribes.  Thus Orcs have perfected the squat from earliest youth and can spend hours squatting on their haunches without straining a muscle.   Orcs on guard duty or waiting nearby a trap will squat and bull in that position for hours, or attend to some craft such as carving a bat from a wood block or making a new wristband.  Despite their violent tempers they can display an incredible patience at this, sometimes lurking by their trap and sitting and muttering for a day or more.  Thus it is orcs encountered at random in some dungeon chamber could have been there for many days with nothing more to amuse themselves than decoration or deep thoughts ("is eating until you burst the best way to die?")

Tolkien already gave us a perfectly good naming scheme for Orcs so I go with something that's heavy on the snapping and buzzing sounds (Gazarak, Rakku, etc.) or I go with Akkadian with the ending vowel replaced with a Black Speech-y noise (like take the word Inannu and make it Enank) or something from Mesopotamian mythology (like the monster Humbaba, which made the name Hun-Ba-Kil). Or, if it's hard to remember a bunch of made up noises, I translate the name (ex. of Orc NPCs in my game: Rotten-Axe, Topknot, Tall Pole, Prettygirl, Big'un, Bad Shot, Milk).

If this all sounds too ordinary and dull and close to real human cultures (although it isn't and I can't think of any like this), consider orcs as basically prime henchman material (the idea of them losing their infravision is dumb, btw--they totally keep the predator vision but they have to be immersed in total darkness for it to work). Your Chaotic fighter can totally get a bunch of orcs to follow him but consider my orcs A) are not dumb axe-wielding guys in fur diapers named Zog, B) are laconic but also argument-loving petty assholes C) are often fuckable if you can see past the whole mutilated green beastgirl thing, and they're probably much more fun to have around. My players have like three orc henchmen now and they love the terse gloomy motherfuckers.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Religions for Eastwylde Setting pt 1

The Cult of the Saints - By far the biggest faith among western humans.  Decentralized clergy centered around temples in major cities, which are run by a Primarch.  Each temple has its satellite shrines, whose priests are called Rectors.  Each shrine has the remains or artifacts of a certain saint, and most bear that saint’s name.  Additionally there are abbeys and monasteries, which are centers of prayer (and powerful land-owning organizations).  There are innumerable saints, but only a handful are widely known.  Saints are understood as persons or beings who manifest the ineffable divine, a kind of universal Godhead.  As representatives of that power, they are invoked and prayed to.  

The saint of saints of course is St. Beatrix, the savior of the world.  Almost all the temples bear her name (“The Temple of St. Beatrix Triumphant,” or “The Temple of St. Beatrix Ascendant,” for example).  Beatrix’s domains are magic, protection and good.  She is the particular patroness of wizards, the city of Limmodes (where she was born), of books and libraries, of oak trees (she carried an oaken staff), lensecrafters and other things.  Her birthday is January 3 but for various reasons her Feast Day is July 5 (both are holidays). 

The Life of Beatrix

Although she now reigns as the Queen of Heaven, Beatrix of Breciliande* was born a perfectly normal human baby girl, to a modestly successful physician and his alewife spouse.  The townhouse in the city of Limmodes where she was born is now a carefully preserved historical site.  Tours are conducted by a minor order of Poor Sisters between nine and four five days a week.  

*yes she was a Breton basically

There are countless folktales and fables now surrounding Beatrix's childhood wherein she displays heavenly wisdom and insight.  These are all apocryphal.  Historians carefully interviewed those who knew her in her mortal lifetime.  According to the Masters of the Wizards' School at Ranblys, she was a talented but unexceptional student from the ages of 14 to 21. 

It was after her graduation that Beatrix's life took an exceptional turn.  At that time the Northern Orcs were unbowed and untamed, and periodically spilled out of their tundra to menace the domains of Man.  Beatrix took part in the First Northern Crusade against the orcs and other monsters.  She drifted among several of the many adventurer bands then going north but took part in many great deeds: slaying the White Wyrm of Icewall Keep, putting an end to Petroblastus the Mad Alchemist, and other adventures.  By 30 she was an accomplished Master Wizardess. 

It is said but repudiated in official histories that Beatrix traveled to the furthest north, to the Sea of Ice where she met the demigod lich called The Ice Father, and studied under him for a time.  Those proscribed accounts say this is where she first learned of the Ritual of Nine Seals, a pathway of ascending to godhood.

Then the Giants returned, and everything changed.

Banished beneath the earth millennia ago by the gods, the kindreds of the Giants of Frost, Fire, Stone and Storm burst their bonds through the sorcerous power of their kings, who it's said made pact with the very Forces of Hell.  

For thousands of years the Order of Rangers had held a watch from northern mountains, begun by the elves and passed on to men, for the return of the Giants.  Their charge was to oppose the earth's once-masters.  They failed.  Everywhere the armies of giantkind emerged, smashing all who opposed them.  Other enemies of the gods once driven to dark places--dragons, dark elves--joined the march.  Cities were ground to dust and kingdoms collapsed.  Man and his allies retreated to scattered bastions as monsters shook the earth.

In those dark days Beatrix gathered a band of heroes around herself who would all become saints in their own right.  [Sidebar: official Cult history is that she did the gathering, but in many versions she was one of the gathered and not initially in anywise the leader of the band.  Still, they're known to history as "The Companions of Beatrix" so whatever].   Foremost among these was St. Justin, known to history as The Giantslayer.  Some say he was a survivor of the fallen Rangers, others a Paladin (official Cult history says both but nobody believes that; the Paladins have taken to calling themselves "the Order of St. Justin" anyway).  The number of her companions is controversal; aside from St. Justin and a few well-attested others, several are considered fictional. 

Regardless of how many of this Fellowship really existed or ever knew Beatrix, what is clear is she and her band of heroes were a light in the darkness, driving back Giants and bringing hope to Men and their allies.  Under the auspices of the remaining Kings of Men and Elves, Beatrix led her companions on a quest to many far-flung places and deep beneath the earth, even to the Sunken World and the dominions of Hell.  They quested for nine seals, powerful arcane devices that united in an ancient ritual could banish the Giants once again.  [Sidebar: some say the purpose of the Nine Seal Ritual is to banish bad things from the earth; a small number of iconoclasts argue it's actually a means of drawing the souls from thousands of living beings at once to boost the caster to godlike heights of power.  Yes there are a few Chris Hitchens types who argue Beatrix was a supervillain, lol.]  

The eleventh hour came at a place called Holger's Pass, where the last kings of Men and Elves made a final stand against an all-out attack, even as Beatrix and the remaining Archmagi began the Ritual of Nine Seals.  Laufi, King of the Frost Giants and Angyrbor, King of the Storm Giants and Wytelsex the most massive red dragon ever seen, rampaged over the Armies of Man.  St. Justin and many of the Companions were martyred in this battle. [Sidebar:  Angyrbor, Laufi and Wytelsex are so infamously remembered from these days that they are known as "the three demons" and are a popular subject in artwork, usually depicted as battling St. Justin or some number of the Companions].  

In virtually every variant of the story, of course, Beatrix completes the ritual just as the Giants breach the very citadel and all seems lost.  In any case all accounts agree that as she completed the spell (which involved conjuring and sealing nine Archdemons in walls of nine elements pure and mixed--earth, fire, wind, water, dust, slime, ice, steam and magma), Beatrix realized the power would not be enough without one final sacrifice and poured her very essence into the spell, dying as it were, but in the same instant ascending.  So great was the power of the spell that the caster's consciousness spread over the whole cosmos, becoming one with the ineffable godhead.  Thus did Beatrix "wed the godhead," or "wed the universe," as is sometimes said. 

During Beatrix's lifetime 500 years ago, the Cult of the Saints was just one among many competing and irreconcilable faiths among the Men of the West.  It was large to be sure, as the Cult had been adopted as the state religion towards the ened of the Imperial Age, but didn't have the lion's share compared to many old and strong cults of divers gods, much less the Druid faith.  Of course, all chronicles and histories state that Beatrix was a faithful observant of The Saints, although a few scoffers in scholastic circles have noted Wizards end not to be overly pious.  

Through her death/ascension however, Beatrix gave the Cult of Saints a total ascension of its own, over the hearts and minds of The West.  She gave them something they had been lacking: a popular, humanizing figure to take as the symbol of the faith, a narrative around which to hang all the high-minded cosmogony.  Beatrix loved all the world, even you poor sinners.  She suffered death so that mankind in its darkest hour would see another day.  Beatrix is us: she could be your mother, your daughter.  And she joined with the One Who is All, in recorded history, before witnesses.

As a literary character, Beatrix has been interpreted and depicted in many ways.  In terms of visual art a particular 'look' has become traditional: that of a dark-haired maiden hooded in blue, holding a staff and spellbook in her hands, eyes closed in serenity with a faint smile on her lovely face.  However many details about Beatrix's life and person are up for speculation.  There is a popular tradition in one region, for example, that Beatrix's spectacles are retained at one Fons Abbey, a powerful relic associated with miracles.  The more learned protest that spectacles did not exist in Beatrix's day (rather a halved glass orb held in the hand was used).   

Perhaps the most contentious of all is that many versions of Beatrix's legend speak of a love between her and St. Justin Giantslayer.  Many poems and chronicles relate that they devoted their hearts to one another as totally as they dedicated their lives to saving the world.  This romantic tradition is dear to many who believe in Courtly Love.  Others however insist on the point that Beatrix died a virgin--that she left this world a pure woman with soul dedicated only to heaven.  Dramatizations and retellings of Beatrix and her companions are a whole genre unto themselves and range from the reverential to the burlesque.  For dramatical and no doubt sexist reasons, Beatrix is often played as the vulnerable naif who comes into her own through St. Justin's love (of course, several critics have pointed out the prominence of St. Justin seems almost more of a sop to macho types who don't want to pray to a girl, but whatever).  Versions where Beatrix has quasidivine wisdom and perfect moral clarity exist but are far less popular outside the pulpit and schoolroom.  

Most of the small details about Beatrix and her story probably never will out.  It is true there are some powerful clerics who have the power to speak directly to Those Above and ask questions of the Godhead itself.  They tend to get the answers they presupposed and inevitably there are conflicting "divine truths." 

I'm not going to chronicle my Eastwylde campaign on this blog

I think after all, it was a mistake to start talking about my Actual Game on this blog.  I want to use it instead for a more general kind of rumination on D&D or RPGs, and broader creative impulses or ideas that don't fit within my campaign per se.  I think my game is pretty good, or at least the people who have stuck with it after a year are having fun.  I may make a second blog just for a campaign chronicle, although there are some difficulties in that I am a very shitty record-keeper.

That said I don't mind talking about stuff pertaining to the Eastwylde setting.  It started life as a deliberately genericized Pathfinder campaign but has grown organically as the players chose to interact with certain elements over others and assumptions, on-the-spot exposition/decisions etc. piled up.   So now I have copious notes on fairy kindreds and history, orc tribes and religion, and the tangled doings of local baronial families and mercenary companies, because these are the elements my players chose to explore (examples of things they ignored: Ruins of an evil Druid civilization, subterranean worlds, rumors of the restless dead).  

So watch this space.

Oh yeah so, last session, I tried doing my version of  Last Gasp's arts and crafts-y encumbrance minigame.  My idea was basically to literally draw the modes of conveyance my players were using and then have them physically place objects representing tools and supplies on those diagrams.  I thought, what could be simpler?  Here we'll have everything laid out in immediately understandable form, as you'll be able to literally SEE how burdened your characters/packbeasts/hirelings are. 

Here are the drawings I made, in fact:

Backpack (& waterskin):

Light horse:

Donkey (went unused as players do not have any donkeys presently):

Note that I didn't have time to include portraits of the two mounts that the Cavalier and Paladin are using (a war-bull and a heavy war horse)---which, honestly, shouldn't even matter because trying to treat a warbeast like a pack mule is stupid but hey what do I care, these assholes don't even remember to take their animals' armor off after a long march poor things are probably dying of chafery. 

 Anyway, the idea was this: a quarter stands for an object (a roll of torches, a lamp, a mapcase, a spade, whatever) and one quarter equals one of the larger squares (six for the backpack, eight for Mule saddlebags, 16 for Light Horse saddlebags).   In addition to quarters there are dimes, which represent either food (a pint of grain probably) or a pint of water (as much as you need in one day).  Notice the waterskins hold two dimes, and additionally you can put two dimes in any of the larger squares.  Since you need to eat and drink, effectively you burn through two dimes a day.   If you use more than half the big squares (five for the Donkey, nine for the Horse, four for yourself) you are encumbered and lose overland speed and your animals are treated as carrying a medium load.  If all the squares are used, it's a heavy load.

Not perfect, maybe not too well thought out, but I thought it would be a simple way to make encumbrance MATTER in my game which is all I want.  I KNOW THEY'RE NOT KEEPING TRACK OF THEIR RATIONS THE RUNNY LITTLE FUCKS anyway.   Sadly what actually happened was this: I laid out sheets for the eight light horses the party is using and a backpack for every PC and NPC, and the space needed took up the entire table.  There was no room for it.  Also nobody put any coins on their sheet or used it at all; I just dropped it and started the game.  ACTUALLY YOU KNOW WHAT this is a dodge my players use all the goddamn time is they chatter until I have to drop whatever brilliant idea I raised at the start just to get the fucking game going WELL NOT NEXT TIME SONNY JIM I am going to bring a half liter of malt whiskey and I am going to sit back and cross my legs and drink it and watch Buffalo Bills highlights on my phone until THEY come to ME  less angry version: it turned out to be unworkable but next time I will work out a better version.  Maybe with tokens? 

Monday, February 20, 2017

I have strong feelings about names, emotional problems

Names should mean something.  I hate, hate-hate-hate, more than anything else about Pathfinder's dumbness, the profusion of meaningless Star Wars names that pop up everywhere in Golarion.   Let me grab one out of Kingmaker, at random.  "Jhod Khavken."  What the fuck is that?  Okay I didn't pick it at random that's literally one of my least favorite names ever.  First off, I hate the English way of pronouncing J.  Take Spanish or Nordic, but what's this "juh" sound?  Feel that tingle behind your teeth when you make that noise?  I hate that.  Then that impact on the roof of your mouth with the "duh."  Both of those in close proximity are sort of unpleasant.  "Jod."  Stupid name.  You know who had a nose for stupid names?  George Carlin.  Maybe because George, with its two "juhs" in close proximity, isn't a great name.  I mean, it's a respectable name---obviously, it means "Farmer" and its most famous bearer is the knight of knights, yadda yadda, but I will never love it (although Greek Iorges and Russian Yuri are good).   Anyway George Carlin had it right---names that end in "duh" sound stupid.  "HI, I'M TODD."  Todd.  Todd.  Jod.  Jod.*  At least words like "justice" and "Jor-El" give you a little breather after the Juh.   SHUT UP I'M NOT DONE. 

*Genuine apologies to anyone named Todd or Rod reading this.  It's not personal.  Especially to New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles.  Sorry about your 2016 season.  

Kavken."  What even is that?  Is that supposed to be like, etymologically related to Kraken?  Cah-vuh (as in "Popol Vuh" or "Varoom") -ken.  Seriously?  You know what I love about Tudor England?  Like literally everybody was named Tom or John.  You need a name?  John Thomas, literally, just like, look at that John Thomas over there, ambling down Drury Lane.   I need to name an NPC?  Tom Jons.  Jon Toms.   Tall Jon.  Strong Jon.  Bald Thomas.   You know what you get when you name a random-ass NPC Bald Thomas?  An immediate connection to a real culture that exists, a sense of place and of the kind of traditions this place has.  You know at once there's a lot of Toms around so this guy is differentiated by the kind of unflattering nickname peasant mums are always flinging around.  You do the same thing in Spanish, by the way.  Everybody is called for their worst trait.   The guy with the saggy chest is Chichis.  The guy with thin eyes is Chino.  So-on.

Obviously, Paizo, I'm not asking you name your questgiving NPC Chino Jones  (but what about "Elf Jones?"  In a world where short, wiry elves with big anime eyes and pointy ears are a thing maybe small-framed guys get called Elf, Elfy, The Old Elfer, IDK).   You know what's a good NPC name?  Baldersnatch.  It's like "balderdash" but sounds bold, and grabby (he baldly grabs).  You'd reflexively tighten your fingers on your coin pouch the second your DM says "the guy running this place is a round geezer named Baldersnatch."  Okay, here's a better example: Rumpelstiltzkin.  Come on, that's a name that tells at once you this guy is dowdy (rumpled), maybe awkward (stilted), but with a name that long and complicated he can't just be dismissed. 

Give people a name like that, a name that has a sound.  A name that has character.   What the fuck is the character of Jhod Kavken?  Is he from Mos Eisley Spaceport?  At least Star Wars was doing a thing with, like, Obi-Wan Kenobi.  That dude has a deliberately weird kinda oriental sounding name so you instantly know, after being introduced to the Skywalkers and the Darklighters, that Old Ben's Really Not From Around Here.  Jhod.  Jhod.  Jehod.  God.  I hate that name.   And like I said, someone at Paizo is really in love with soft noises like "juh" and "sh," and just awkwardly mashing consonants that shouldn't go together together like "vuhhk" or "sht" (you think that swear exists because it's just a naturally unpleasant pairing of sounds?  Like "ffk?"  I may be on to something there).  It makes a lot of their dumb fantasy names viscerally unpleasant to read (oddly enough, the word "viscera" is kind of pleasant.  Just say that to yourself, "viscera, viscera, viscera.")   Should I make a list of consonants that pair well and ones that are dissonant?  Like "puh-luh" (pleasant, please) "puh-ruh" (pretty, prim), versus, well, "duh-suh" (dis, dys).  

Should I even post this or am I giving myself away as insane?   


ee:  Look at Tolkien, he knows what he's talking about.  "Ainur" and "Noldor" are pleasant sounding, almost soothing words.  "Grishnakh" is not pretty to any sensibility.  It's what we caricature middle eastern language as sounding like---durka, durka.   "Cavendish" is a very unpleasant, soggy name although it does force the lips apart at the sides as if one were speaking around a pipe, interestingly.  Also here's a name that's totally an exception to my rule about unpleasant noises: Jerjerod (as in, the Grand Moff).  Lots of Js, ends in Duh, sounds a little ineffectual but of noble bearing (you've got a "rod" in there like kings wield, the kingly color red, I dunno).

eee:  Just is an ugly word and rightly so.  It is an interjection ("Just----") and a harsh (hsh) thing, whereas I think we can agree it is more pleasant but not quite as exacting to be fair as opposed to just



Names of Saints
St. Emertius, St. Euphemius, St. Evander, St. Elfhelm, St. Llaws, St. Lloys, St. Rhondice, St. Cappestan, St. Angel, St. Meir, St. True, St. Hollyhelm, St. Lizard, St. Loreleis, St. Albagar, St. Albundegus, St. Ambrosio, St. Wine, St. Music, St. Orelice, St. Fulkestan, St. Bastantius, St. Pruelice, St. Jodelice, St. Josclyn, St. Ross, St. Rosalmer, St. Palmer, St. Markflorice, St. Pranstantius, St. Effervescia, St. Efectual

Names of Farms
In normal conversation you usually drop the "farm."  Like, nobody says, "I'm looking for Green Valley Farm," just, "I'm looking for Green Valley." 

Litchfield farm.   Green Valley Farm.  Rolling Green Country Farm.  Pleasantview Farm.  Luckless Field Farm.  Lonely Field Farm.  Leprechaun's Farm (not run by a leprechaun, everyone just calls it that).  Hidden View Farm. Corpsrikker Farm.  Stoneybroke Farm.  Elephant's Farm.  Patched Banner Farm.  Goodwinter Farm.  Burned Field Farm.  Smoking Hill Farm.   Farm of the Famous Rapist (a merely historical episode).   Swelterfield Farm.  Dropped Drake Farm.  Pottery Barn Farm (did you know ancient clay sherds make excellent composting material?)  Wooly Woods Farm.  Longacre Farm.  Acrewood Farm.  Mark's Hart Farm.  Jodelsynger Farm.  The High Farm.  Overlook Acres.  Green Acres.  Waystone Standing Farm.  Prentice Llaw's Farm (Prentice Llaws has been dead 100 years).  Swathecutter Stream Farm.   Mashed Acres.  Dustswallow Farm.  Wurstenwurster Farm.  Brewer's Field.  Circular Acres.  Holy Road Acres.  Mere Acres.  Many-Acres Farm (consists of three acres).  Rockpile Acres (famous for its mysterious stacked stones, piled by bored shepherds 1,000 years ago).   Lookout Acres.  Whichwaycres.  Whocres.  Cramped Crooked Acres.  Kingsweed Stand.  Highthistle.  Yellowclay.  Bitterbrook.  Patched Earth. 

Names of Local Beasts (Peasants are always giving names to the local Thing Out In The Woods That's Killing Them)

The Careless Beast.  The Loomer.  The Stumper.  The Precious Horn.  Smellymouth.  Moleslayer.  Turnip.  The Sweet Screecher.  Little Big-Blow.  Spiderfriend.  Peeling Petey.  Freshclods.  Clogstomper.  Lamplighter.  Puddle-Look.  Turn-in-the-Rows.  The Hay-Fish.  Thrice Threshed.  Hands-Me-Down (walks on hands, attacks with feet).  Everytooth.  The Handsome Man.  Maresnatcher.  Head-of-Thyme.   The Garlic Thief.  Between-the-Boards.  Roofhiker.  Eye of the Dawn (a pretentious legend).  Roaming Betty.   The Forest Crab (peasants have insane notions like, crabs are huge and have six claws and giant mouths and race over the land on high legs.  Responsible scholars know crabs have three claws at most and rarely grow bigger than a child).  

Names of Neighborhoods
Orcsrest.  The Bog.  The Gallows.  The Looms.  Fairy's Gate.  Swallowtail Hill.  The Reeks.  Shaker's Place.  Vinegar Way.  Pay-Me-Later Street.  Lover's Lane (PDAs strictly not allowed).   Glasstown.  Fireball Street.  Cartbreaker Cobbles.  Lost Horse Lane.  Planksroad.  Maypole Winter Abbey.  Shrine Street.  Blusterwind Bowles.  Gathers Street.  Carding Cane Gardens.  The Rookeries.  Pigeonhole Place.  Sunkhouse Look.  Dormice Town.  No-Beggars-Here (full of beggars and a frequently-raided wishing well).  The Sighs.  Double-End Street.  Bell-Bottle Circle.   Cherry Court.  Eggbasket Alley.  Lost Spice Lane.  Roadshoulder.  The Boulders.  Mallard Court.  Fulminating Stews Place. 

Names of Princesses (or at least Ladies)

Note that I like the German pronunciation so read names ending in "e" as ending in "uh."  However read a name ending in "ce" as in "advance."  Read names ending in a double-e as ending with "y."  A C followed by an e should be read as a soft C.  V should be pronounced "W" or W as "V" unless it follows a consonant in which case "B."  So basically I'm not consistent at all if I want to use an English or German reading.  Just sound it out and go with what's best.

Fulminee.  Charmine.  Cureen.  Leminee. Variance.  Aldbalde.  Avfulde.  Drebdys.  Creminy.  Caring.   Aldys.  Guangshivre.  Meredith.  Blungwyldys.  Orcrine.  Peresmeneen. Perisnalde. Aptmenyn.  Aspys.  Currant.  Hoargaldvys.  Geldgertys.  Archruthyne.  Foringoldys.  Prumenny.  Petal.  Dylicht.  Ermine.  Baring.  Atlantys.  Terecynce.  Eminentia.  Advantia.  Godsgyft.  Riddynce.  Hulmine.  Clyming.  Aldrudys.     

I hate Pathfinder's names.  Someone at Paizo has a real thing for slavic-sounding soft noises like "ish," "isht," "vsh," and it makes my teeth itch reading that shit. 


Things are going well

We just had the 24th session of my Eastwylde campaign for Pathfinder.  Some of you may remember that big enormous document I posted before wisely taking it down, all about my projected plans for thesession.  Most of it was never got to, as the group found negotiating with Bandit Lord Jack to be diverting enough for nearly half a session.  The whole session took place over about three hours in-game time.  Huge success, everybody that wanted got something to do.  Much fun was had and I'm sitting pretty with a detailed sketch of events to fill next session.  Things are going very well in the game right now. Happy players makes a happy DM.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Here's another drawing of that Half-Orc girl

I think she's a Paladin.  Other than that I got nothing yet.  I don't get to be a player often enough.

Por que tan largo la nariz?  Pienso que aparece muy Castelleno, tal vez. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What's In The Eastwylde Pt 1 - Fairies

Fairy Folk
Pixies, Leprechauns and Brownies are the three common types.  Boggarts and Redcaps are the less-talked about, much less funny cousins to these three varieties of Fey.

Pixies (AL: CN)
Pixies are the most numerous---the Eastwylde has a population in the hundreds, at least.  They have what comes closest to a real society, with leaders, shepherds, weavers and other specialized roles.   Essentially, Pixie society is stratified into the commoners and the Gentry.  The main difference is that Pixie commoners live in large tumulous mounds like ant hives (almost all of which are obscured by forest), while Gentry live in houses painstakingly modeled after the latest human architectural fashions, built into the trunk of a living tree with its rooftops among the branches.  Likewise, commoners dress in simple wool and linen garb, while Gentry use magic or any other means to dress in miniature approximation of the latest human fashions.

No pixies have appeared in the game so far, but you can bet every time the party's ventured into the forest they've been watched carefully.

Pixie commoners are organized into clans, with each clan living in one mound.  It may seem odd for winged creatures to spend so much time underground but they don't seem to mind.  They festoon their burrows with tiny oilskin lanterns and hang enough holly and pine to sweeten the subterranean air.   Pixies may be only 18" high--the size of a doll, perhaps---but they need to eat, and they keep chickens just like everybody else.  Perfectly normal chickens, who have to be led out from underground each day and then watched carefully as they amble about their pens.  This is the job of the youngest and lowest ranking Pixies, but they take the job seriously----if you see what appears to be a lost chicken wandering in the woods, leave it alone.   Additionally, the pixies have bred a species of dwarf sheep from which they get their fleece and wool.  Humans frequently mistake these sheep for lost lambs wandering in the woods and become sheep-stealers without realizing it.

One of the most important things about Pixies is that they cast their spells primarily through archery, which is both a means of communication and an obsessive past-time to them.  Pixies imbue their will into the arrows they launch.  These tiny arrows---more like long needles, really---cast whatever spell they want on the struck target.  Obviously, it's no good to cast, say, confusion, on a dead man so Pixies are really good at shooting people in usually nonfatal body parts.  In fact, skilled pixies can plug a hapless commoner two dozen times before he is even in danger of bleeding out.  One of their most important spells is Charm Monster, which allows them to befriend any beast or man they strike with their darts.   Thus pixies hunt, not necessarily for food, but often for new friends and pets.   Their burrows are typically guarded by charmed badgers, who probably have magic fang and a few other basic enchantments ready to go.

Pixies are vaguely brythonic in origin and if you crack open any ancient history book about Britain you should find a bunch of ready-to-use names.   Caradog, Cunobelin, Admindios, Gwydyros, sure (One of the few problems is a lack of female names in the sources but, like, just stick -etica at the end and you're probably safe.  Like Caradetica, Gwydyretica).   Gaulish and modern Welsh and Breton names should be close enough for government work.

Common pixies decorate themselves and make fastening toggles with fangs and bits of horn and bone and wear cloaks and hats of fleece in Winter, of woven leaves in Spring and Summer.  They paint spirals and celtic knots in blue woad on everything, including their faces in wartime.  Since metal is abhorrent to them they officially rebuke it and only use bone and flint for arrowheads, but the truth is every pixie has a pouch of a few nails or other iron bits which they might make into particularly dangerous arrows for a particularly hated rival.   Pixie clans go to war with each other all the time, but real fights only happen between two individuals who really hate each other.

Pixies not only enslave animals to be their guards and cattle, they enslave men to be their, uh, slaves.  Actually, common pixies do this way more than Gentry, because more than anything they abhor the drudgery of labor, while Gentry families pride themselves on not being so lazy.  It is rare for them to enslave anyone long-term: when slaves are taken it is because they were a target of convenience (usually lost in the woods), or one of the youngest/lowest-ranking Pixies has some particularly odious task such as a long journey and wants to fob it off.  In such cases they may just find any old human, shoot him in the ass with a charm arrow, and say something like, "dear friend, would you do me the great kindness of taking this important letter to such-and-such down the road?"  The poor human might find himself bewitched by the addressee of the missive as soon as he finally arrives, sent back with a simple message such as "we do not appreciate solicitors!"  This kind of incidental/accidental happening is how Pixie slavery works and slaves usually are forgotten/reprieved/escape after a few chores.

Of course, younger Pixies usually can't cast charm spells that last long.  What often happens is the spell wears off when the human is halfway through his errand, and he is often left in a state of confusion as to why he was doing what he was just doing.   Human peasants, of course, conflate this with perfectly ordinary forgetfulness--like when you come into a room to get something and immediately forget what it was, if you're some salt of the earth type you'll often go "confounded pixies!" 

Sometimes humans get enslaved longer term.  Usually it's attractive and unmarried young women, just one more reason for farmers to lock up their daughters at night.  If a human is "taken on as help" by Pixies for a longer term, they are often shrank down to be of better use.  A fully-grown human in a Pixie burrow usually isn't much good except as a doorjamb.  Gentry almost always shrink their humans down to Pixie size (this requires a higher-level version of Reduce Person), but some cheaper ones might leave them at Halfling-size, which is still awkwardly big for a burrow or treehouse.  
Slaves of the gentry are always house-servants, working in the kitchens inside the brick foot of the house (being built into treetrunks, these houses are always quite vertically, usually 12 feet tall with 3-4 stories).  Obviously working in a kitchen in a tree is a precarious job which is why the little ovens and stoves are carefully built into brickwork.  This makes the kitchens of a Pixie Gentleman hellish hot.  Human nurses frequently tell tales of naughty children taken by the Pixies and put into the kitchen, forced to bake "the squire's" bread in heat and smoke like hell until they pass out and fall into the oven which, of course, was what the vile Pixie wanted all along ("now along with the bread comes the roast!" is the punchline to these stories).   In real life any Pixie Gentleman who did this would be a sociopathic monster among his own kind---but who knows what the Gentry do in their big ornate houses? 

However, the truth of enslaved ("adopted") human children is nothing like these nursery tales.  It does happen that sometimes a Pixie---common or genteel--gets the idea to kidnap a human child and raise them as a full-time servant.  The kid is usually treated with much condescension, since humans can't fly and are ridiculously clumsy; men are just sort of inherently comical to Pixies.  Most Pixies can't really stomach cruelty to a child any more than you or I can, and such servants are treated reasonably and often released when they get old enough to start really missing other humans.  There are quite a few ordinary people in the border country who spent one or two years as a servant of the Pixies, with experiences ranging from the harrowing to the pleasant. 
The only picture specifically of a pixie I've ever liked

Almost always, Pixie Gentry cultivate a beehive on one of the branches of their tree.  They obtain massive amounts of honey and put it on everything: baking it into cakes, brewing mead, spreading it on toast, etc.  This honey is the absolute property of the Gentry, and often used as a means to cajole the commoners into doing something for a Gentleman (which task they may well then kick down to a hapless human).  Genteel Pixies get along fabulously with bees, because they frequently wear clothes with beestripes (they cover a lot of their shit in stylized stripes just like commoners do with spirals) which means they practically look like bees themselves.  They often walk around with a bevy of bees crawling all over them, the fuzzy little dears being the size of a tiny toy dog in comparison perhaps.   The noise of this is incredible and a little frightening to shrunk-down servants.
Of course, Pixie Gents utilize archery just as much as their common kin, and are usually better at it (notwithstanding they always have much fancier, more powerful composite bows).  They also carry special swords, never of metal but typically a length of thornbush or nettle, carefully stiffened and sharpened, with its prickles bristling off the "blade."   When two Pixie Gents are going to duel, as a mark of station and bravery, they prefer to swing these "stings" at one another while spinning around in a flashy midair melee.  They sting like hell without inflicting serious injury, which makes them excellent dueling weapons and prods for recalcitrant slaves. 

You might assume the Gentry are the leaders of Pixie society, but really the Gentry and Commons are like two wholly different societies.  Gentry families are usually just 4-6 individuals plus servants and get their social lives from parties thrown at so-and-so's house, or special balls held in such-and-such glade.  Commoner clans have their own internal leadership structure, always led by a patriarchal elder, who deals with the Gentry on behalf of his people more in the way of negotiation than deference. 

In theory, if the Pixies were to ever go to war, all the clans would get together under the leadership of their hereditary squires, who would assemble before the King of the Forest in their leaf armor, perhaps riding specially bred war-pigeons.  Nobody could even imagine this happening in modern times, especially in the Eastwylde where there hasn't been a King of the Forest in 500 years. 

Brownies (AL: CG)

None of the other Fairy Folk like the Brownies.  They're such brown nosers.  Always cozying up to Men.  Living in barn lofts, cellars and cabinets.  Mending shoes, pans, doorhandles, and always respectfully retreating with the dawn, not looking for so much as a thank-you---just a bowl of milk and crushed chestnuts for me, thank-you ma'm--don't they know that Fairies are supposed to be feared and respected by mortalkind?  Where do they get off toadying like that, letting the whole side down??
Smug little bastard

Right, so nobody likes Brownies.  Brownies don't live in the forest, because the tougher and meaner Fairies would make game of them, but they don't all necessarily squat in human houses either.  Most live on the border of the forest, usually in a little one-room burrow beneath an old stump or mossy stone.   Brownies are vaguely related to Gnomes, who are inclined to the earth element, so they're very comfortable in a subterranean hollow that would be claustrophobic to anyone else.  If the burrow is home to multiple generations it might be expanded to something like a little cabin, with a rabbit chamber and a reading nook.  Brownies are, as a rule, the most unassuming, mild-mannered cornpone little motherfuckers on earth.  Other Fairies find them absolutely gratingly pleasant, like they have no pride at all.

Brownies like doing things for people, and they're also very good at it.  They're not creatively inclined, but they can fix just about anything, of whatever material.  In fact, a brownie just has to hold an object in his hands and study it for a while, and they'll sort of absorb the essence of it and have an epiphany as to how, if at all possible, they might fix a thing.  For example, a Brownie who had never tinkered in his life might hold an iron pan for a minute and then take up a hammer and beat the dents out of it as though he'd been apprenticed to the task all his life.  Likewise with stitchery, cobbling, gardening, whatever.  They can't make new things (or they only can with great difficulty) but they can repair almost anything.

You would think they would just come out in the open and be welcomed by human society.  But Brownies are smart enough to understand that, inevitably, humans would try to take advantage of their good intentions.  It's better to just keep the relationship simple and indirect.  That way the Brownies have a use and the humans get their stuff fixed---everybody's happy, nobody's hurt.   Brownies are only a little shorter than Halflings and could be mistaken for them quite easily though, so who knows how many adventurous young brownies walk out in the open in Halfling or mixed towns?

Brownie society, such as it is, is laid back and pleasant.  They either live solitary lives or with
immediate family.  Being fey, obviously, there's no rush for them to get married.  When not helping others they love comfortable pastttimes like storybooks, pipe tobacco, trimming a dwarf tree, or making paintings.   I said Brownies couldn't create anything, but they can make totally fatuous Thomas Kincaide style landscapes as a racial ability.  They think that shit is adorable which further baffles and enrages other Fairies.   They can't write though, so all their books are "borrowed" from Men (being virtually ageless they don't see the problem with borrowing a book from some family for a few decades or centuries---they really do keep close track of the bloodline).  Brownie weddings are wonderful week-long affairs that draw in families from the whole region, usually held in a clearing or heath on the forest border.   Although they remain hidden or disguised in human communities, out in wasteland Brownies walk around quite openly.  You might see a few on their way to a wedding party with kegs of beer and loaves under their arms.

The other thing about Brownies is they all carry swords and, at the end of the day they're ready to throw down.  Like, Pixies stick to bows and Leprechauns to clubs, because while they're more ready to use violence, using metal is a level of hardcore they don't like to go to.  If a Brownie needs to settle some shit though he's going to be pretty dead serious about it.   They have no ego but they do have a strong sense of decency, and aren't the toughest Fairies but will always do the right thing.   Another genre of Fairy Tales is the one about the brave little brownie who stepped in to save a maiden from an Ogre.  Usually the Brownie ends up a smear on the Ogre's fist, which is a lesson to teach kids that you can't succeed just through good intentions or something.

I have no idea what Brownies would call themselves.  Probably gentle nature names like Willow, Ashwhite, uh.... Heath?  Whatever.  Let's be honest these dudes are a little boring, and they'll probably just adopt halfling/human names.

Leprechauns (AL: CN)
Leprechauns could almost be Brownies---they're the same size.  But while Brownies are proportionate and can be attractive like halflings, Leprechauns are misshappen, with enormous heads, stooped shoulders and twisted legs (that in no way impinges their strength or speed).  Really, each Leprechaun's proportions and features are quite unique, which is to say that each Leprechaun is ugly in his own unique way.   If there are lady leprechauns no one's ever seen one.  Maybe Leprechauns are just an adolescent phase Brownie Boys go through.

The best way to describe Leprechauns is that they are punk-asses.  They are jackasses, and they are punks.  They're greedy, territorial and clannish, but also they love doing stupid reckless shit to impress their friends.  Pin the tail on the Hill Giant, steal a water-wheel and try to keep it spinning downstream, tie your friend to a treebranch while he's sleeping and smear his face with honey, etc.  Fortunately for Leprechauns they are shockingly tough, or at least resilient to blunt force trauma.

Not every Leprechaun guards a pot of gold.  That's a story they spread around to troll humans.  Actually Leprechauns themselves aren't sure if any of them has a pot of gold, but they're always sort of suspicious that one of them might, if they could just find the bastard and shake it out of him.  
Leprechauns always dress well, or at least flashy.  They copy human fashions although they are often centuries out of date or appropriated from weird and obscure cultures, or often a bizarre mix and match in garish colors.  They actually do not like green or colors that blend in with the natural environment, they want to stand out.  Hideous as they are, they go to great lengths to cultivate unique styles of facial hair (and occasionally their copious body hair). They form associations, or gangs, based on neighborhoods which are hidden to humans but are clearly marked all over the forests, usually with a Fairy Circle (of mushrooms, stones etc.) demarcating a Leprechaun's yard.
That sick cloak/jacket on the right is I imagine the height of Leprechaun fashion

I haven't even talked about Fairy Circles yet so I guess I will here---Fairy Circles are reputedly gateways to other worlds and sometimes they are, but more frequently they're just the Fairy version of boundary stones, like a fence around your yard.  Like a Pixie gentleman will have a ring of mushrooms around the giant gnarled oak he lives in, or a ring of mushrooms will crown the top of a Pixie tumulus, or there will be a semicircle of mushrooms spread around the stump a Brownie lives in.   Fairy Circles basically just mean "I live here (get lost)."  Leprechaun gangs usually consist of 4-6 individuals whose Fairy Circles happen to be fairly close.  Like boys from the same neighborhood they fight constantly but always close ranks against outsiders (anybody from outside their tiny district of the woods).

Individually leprechauns are just surly little men, but in gangs they can be terrors.  They love to get blitzed on berry wine and white lightning and "roam around the woods looking for fights."  (A fight usually consists of finding the nearest Brownie and shoving/ridiculing him until he cries).   The common story is that Men (or other mortals) who blunder into a Leprechaun "neighborhood" will be expected to present a "gift" to "the lords" because that's only manners.  Indeed Leprechauns shake people down for their valuables constantly; they'll take money but soon forget about it and leave it somewhere.  But fine clothes or magic items are what they really prize.  They are always looking to extravagate their wardrobe and they can read magic easily.   As mentioned, intimidation is a favorite tactic if they're in a gang, but individually or together Leprechauns love to trick and confound Men and take great pride in doing this.  They are capable of powerful illusionary magic and will go to elaborate lengths to confuse a Man so bad he doesn't know what's up from his right.  Convincing a guy he's drowning and then going "quick, throw me your [coin pouch/nice hat/magic sword] and I'll throw you a rope!" is a favorite (the punchline is tossing a coiled rope into the guy's face once you let the illusion fade).  Just imagine a million mean jokes of that nature.
Imagine these guys 3' tall with big heads, that's a roaming Leprechaun Gang

Leprechauns as a rule carry sticks, but sometimes one makes a "punch" from carved knucklebones complete with nasty enchantments like woozify or slurrinate (confuse and slow;  Leprechauns have their own better names for spells).  One thing everybody knows is that Leprechauns are jerks but they will never actually kill anybody (this is actually more of a risk with Pixies who might kill you accidentally; Leprechauns have a much better idea of what they're doing when they handle mortals).  If you're too wise to their routines they may just beat the shit out of you and leave your bruised hide back at the edge of the forest, though.

Leprechauns aren't all bad.  They will stick up for their mates.  They won't inflict more cruelty on a humiliated victim.  They may be spontaneously kind, to children, forest hermits, the lost or wretched.
Ladies, all this could be yours
  They like pretty girls and will usually rob one of no more than a kiss.

Leprechaun names are long and complicated and prone to change with their mood.  They are usually comprised of medieval Irish conventions (so Brendan Og Cailean rather than Brendan O'Colin) plus word salad.  Really just invent something that sounds goofy.  Here are the Leprechaun names I've used so far: Tyrnaut Fitz Tyrnaut; Clontarf Mac Cock-Whistle; Peevish Thurible; Boykin Creakly; and Kelly Kelly Kelly.

Yes, when I play Leprechauns at a table I put on the worst 30's Hollywood-style brogue that I can.  It's not offensive, Leprechauns are supposed to be horrible!

Redcaps (AL: NE)
If Leprechauns are the rudeboys of the Fairy World, Redcaps are the lone nuts.  Seriously, murder is their whole thing.  There is no Redcap culture.  Even other Fairies don't know how many there are, if they reproduce or if there's just a certain number of insane immortal killers wandering the world.  Nobody knows why Redcaps kill.  They target Beast, Man and Fairy alike, leave no explanations and usually no survivors.

The story goes that they are a Vengeance from the Lost World (A Hate From Old Times, if you will).   Fairies know, vaguely, that they used to inhabit some other world before they came to this one, and that world was destroyed, and the Gnomes had something to do with it which is why they're not counted among the various Folks anymore.  Some fairies say the Redcaps are a holdover from that world, a weapon that was unleashed and stalks its prey still, following a mandate that no longer has a source or a purpose.  But maybe that's just a story.  Redcaps don't talk, but they do laugh---a noise nobody who survives an attack will ever forget.

Redcaps would be about the size of gnomes if they stood straight, but they're bent like old men, which they resemble.  They have twisted little legs and long apelike arms knotty with muscle.  Their trepezial muscles are jacked and they have thick, trunklike necks that jut their wan, sunken faces forward.  They have long white beards, always silky smooth, and long white hair, also straight, flowing back from under the long red wool stocking caps they wear.  Other than the bright cap they usually wear dull brown rags, clothes long worn from centuries(?) of skulking and wandering, sometimes concealing cloaks.  Redcaps' eyes are huge, like an owl's, with little dead black pupils in a sea of white.  Under a beaklike nose their mouths break open to display long, yellow angler-teeth which seem to project forward a little whenever their lips pull back.  They carry long scythes (man-sized) which they seem to be able to pull from nowhere at all, and wield with speed and ferocity.
You'll never improve on the MMII picture

Some say the reason Redcaps don't talk is their face isn't their real face---the real face is on the top of their skull, under their cap.  But survivors of Redcap attacks say that's just a stupid fable, because they've seen Redcaps doff their caps to dip in the blood of their victims, and beneath was just a bald crown.  Redcaps pause to dip their caps in the blood of a fresh kill, always, which is why their caps are always bright red, and how some manage to escape them.

Redcaps hide in all kinds of places you'd never expect, but places any child would suspect too.  Under stairs, beds, in cabinets, in wells, under piles of hay, under a sick calf, in mother's chaplet.  They wander with seemingly no preference between wilderness, countryside and towns.  They are not only shaped like apes but just as strong and can leap high enough to catch the eaves of most roofs.  Sometimes they won't use their scythes but bite with those oversized teeth which are iron-strong, and lap up gushing blood from their dying victim.

Redcaps don't exactly work together, but it's surprising how often two or three might independently choose the same place for a murder.  If two Redcaps encounter each other by chance, they silently doff their caps, and continue on with their grim work.  Once everyone in the immediate vicinity is dead, they retreat back into the shadows.  Of course there are plenty of murderers among Men so Redcaps are rarely suspected, but among Fairies, a discovered murder almost always means Redcaps.

It is possible for a Wizard to lure out a Redcap with tobbaco and bloody beef (and, a recent discovery, chocolate), then if they are powerful enough to overawe the creature, take it as a familiar.  Redcaps make excellent (and perhaps more importantly, intimidating) bodyguards in some wizards' opinion.  It's said that with some work a wizard can make his Redcap familiar talk, although what they might have to say is known only to those wizards.

Boggarts (AL: CE)
Boggarts look like Leprechauns aged about 40 years---in other words they look like twisted, misshappen little old men rather than boistrous brutes or ugly coxcombes.  They dress well but usually in dour and concealing cloaks or mantles with broad caps.  They wander roads quite openly and fearlessly in broad daylight, and but also up mountain or forest paths as if on some world-spanning errand only they know.  Wherever a Boggart encounters someone, it's likely to lead to trouble, as Boggarts are both wicked and quite sensitive, which is a terrible combination.

Boggarts are sensitive about everything---their age and ugliness, their height, their clothes, the weather--it's extraordinarily easy to offend one.  That's when the Boggart whips off his hat and cloak, face reddening and growls "now ye've done it!"  Stripped to shirtsleeves the Boggart grows and grows--not a smooth, ghostly resizing like the Enlarge Person spell but a Jeckyll-esque ripping and popping of muscles, stretching and tearing shirt and britches, until they are a grotesque muscled form the size of a Bugbear.

Usually in this scenario, the Boggart will take his sweet time displaying his jacked form, flexing and posturing, and belting out things like, "how d'ye like me now!?"  "bet ye feel a dem fool fer accostin' a gentlemen about his way!"  "Ye jest had t'push me, didn't ye?  Y'jest keep pushin' and pushin' jest like all t'udders!  Well not this time!"  and other aggrieved nonsense.  Every Boggart thinks he is the most put-upon person in the world and that their lashing out is well deserved by whoever gets it.  You could say their endless wandering is one long, fuming walk, ostensibly to calm themselves down but really rehearsing an eternity of grievances.

The thing is that Boggarts won't stop short of murdering their victims.  Beating them senseless and throwing them off a cliff or ripping out their hearts are all good ends to an encounter.  Boggarts will make a faint show of respecting the Fairy Courts if they have to, but any crime they can get away with will be indulged in.  Occassionally a Boggart comes to visit some luckless family.  If they know what he is they can prolong their lives a little by inviting him in and showing overweaning deference, putting him at the head of their table, etc. but eventually he will find some excuse to punch them all to death, and then he'll go through their wardrobe and take what he likes.

Some Boggarts are further gone even than that.  They dispense with the language and the perfunctory justification.  They just kill, and usually they stay in their monstrous form all the time.  The term "bugbear" originally described these creatures, who would haunt neighborhoods, slipping into wealthy homes and eating the children in their beds.  It was much more satisfying to let the parents live and discover their son or daughter as a pile of regurgitated bones the next morning.   Modern Boggarts act like these were some bad apples who went too far, and that as civilized members of Fairykind they repudiate such violence, which to be fair was only directed at Men anyway, but nobody buys that.
A boggarts' monstrous form closely resembles a bugbear and was the original meaning of the name.

Amazingly, some Fairy Courts actually tolerate Boggarts, although certainly nobody likes them.  This is because where they are accepted, Boggarts virtually always direct their violence outwards from the community, namely at Men.  Boggarts loath Men to their core, because Men just look like a big stupid version of Fairies with big stupid faces and put on airs like they own everything like, what are they thinking, they just put some sticks together and now they own all this pasture?  According to who?  Where do they get the nerve?  And they make all this milk and jerky and silk hats and other fine things but just pass it around among themselves even though they're all Johnny-Come-Latelys?  Seriously the only question is why somebody hasn't blown their houses all over and cracked open their heads yet.  Occasionally you get a Boggart who hangs around the Court so long he even puts on airs like he's some kind of courtier, and tries to talk like Richard Attenborough, but this cracks the second something annoys them, and then they have to go back to the Land of Men to blow off steam.
The worst though is when Boggarts come 'round to Leprechaun neighborhoods.  Because Boggarts have a way of taking over Leprechaun gangs---it involves repeated beatings and cowing displays, and a lot of goading the Leprechauns to do worse and worse "pranks."  Like sure, open that guy's barn doors and let the cows out, but if you know what would be really funny is if that snot-nosed little brat boy of his was sitting in front of the doors when it happened.  Because what's he going to do, spank the cow??
Apparently in proper D&D Boggarts are... giant frogs?  That's weird.

All too often the Leprechauns start buying into the Boggart's way of seeing things (Boggarts are all old, right, so they must know something), and then a campaign of terror can really start.  With 4-8 Leprechauns backing him a Boggart might make a bid for becoming the Fairy Lord of a Forest, smashing all the poor Pixies' houses and evicting Brownies from their burrows unless they start talking tribute.  It gets really bad if there's a human community nearby---the only reason Boggarts will leave a human community standing if they manage to seize power is that it's funny to keep stringing them along with hope that no, next year I won't kill anyone if your tribute's just a little bigger, really!

Fairies and Religion
Cold iron will kill the shit out of any Fey right quickly, but even ordinary old iron makes Fairies uncomfortable to say the least.  Nasty rashes, quaking and sweats, they react to the stuff as if it were radioactive.  But Fairies have another weakness, namely icons of the Saints.

It doesn't matter if the Fairy is good of heart or black as coal.  They can scarcely look at let alone go near representations of the Saints and the Godhead.  They can handle effigies of the Old Gods a little better, but still aren't fans.

A Fairy who looks directly at an icon or image of a Saint is shaken for 10 rounds.  A Fairy luckless enough to touch one, or a book of holy scripture, is burned for 1d4 damage and sickened for 10 rounds, and must make a DC 15 Will save or flee to a safe distance from the religious object. 
This is mostly a problem for Brownies who want to be helpful, "good tenants" to their unwitting human hosts, but have problems looking up at the icon on the wall.  Mostly they just train themselves to keep their eyes down and not look at it, although a Brownie with spellcasting class levels might, I don't know, combine Invisibility and Remote Hand (I forget the actual spell name) and disapparate the icon for as long as they need to work.

As long as a Fairy is unaware that they are close to a religious image, they're fine.  However this doesn't apply to iron, which they can sense with a twinge in their guts.

Likewise, Fairies cannot approach consecrated ground.  The lost saints' tombs and shrines of the Eastwylde are still, after 500 years, anathema to them, treated as warily as the remaining sinks of Wild Magic.  They would certainly never think of going near a Temple or Shrine that was being actively used.

So what's the deal with them and the Saints?  It seems like whatever empowers the destiny of man has a real hate-on for the Fairy Folk.  Like they don't belong in his plan.  Wherever Man settles, he builds shrines, entombing the bodies of holy men inside and consecrating the stones in their name, raising up high towers to please the eye of god.  This is ground forever lost to the Fairies.  Whatever is given in His name they can never take back.  There is no countermeasure to this.  Even if they go on the warpath and slay Men left and right, Fairies can't "win" territory back from God.  They can only lose.   This makes even the kindliest fairies not fans of Man as a whole, though individual people they can like well enough (especially the irreligious).   Good Fairies understand that "your God is a shithead" is kind of a rude thing to say and just try to avoid the subject of religion with Men as best they can.   In fact, those enslaved/raised by Pixies at a young age rarely ever feel quite comfortable in a house of the saints ever again.  They usually settle on some gently compromising position like, "the beauty of nature is the greatest Temple of all and it surrounds us already.  Why worship in some house when we're so much closer to Him out here?"

So, that's Fairies.  Good, bad, mostly just annoying.  Common wisdom is that you're better off never meeting them at all, but stay polite if you do.  Don't eat their food, give them what they ask for, stay out of the woods, and pray to the Saints; keep an icon on your wall and a pair of shears under your pillow and you should be alright.   Although Fairy-folk don't seem to have an infinite lifespan (Pixies live only a little longer than humans, Brownies certainly age and die, the other three breeds are more mysterious in their ways), they scarcely seem to notice the passing of years nor understand how time can matter so much to humans.  Their lives are hazy as the submerged world from which they came; they would rather feast and play and fight and fuck than keep to a calendar.  Cosmogenic questions of good and evil they seem to miss entirely---stuck in a past that is now only a dream which settles over the wild and deep places sometimes, ever retreating, soon to be gone forever.